Scotland's hopes of reaching the FIFA World Cup™ finals for the first time since 1998 are set for a major hit with star striker James McFadden doubtful for next month's key qualifier against the Netherlands.
Scans on a knee injury showed that the Birmingham City forward could be out for up to eight weeks which would give him little hope of being fit in time for that match.
"Faddy's situation is a major worry," said Scotland manager George Burley. "We are not blessed with a lot of top, world-class players.
"We haven't completely ruled him out but we have to be realistic and it's not looking good for James. Faddy would be a big loss but we just have to get on with it."
The Dutch are strong favourites to clinch the automatic qualifying spot from group nine after wins in their first three matches enabled them to open up a five-point lead at the top of the section.
Scotland are second with four points from three matches but all the other teams in the group, Iceland, Macedonia and Norway, remain well-placed to battle for second spot and a play-off place.
Meanwhile, Burley has warned goalkeeper Craig Gordon he is in danger of being ousted by Rangers' Allan McGregor unless he can hold down a first-team place at Sunderland.
Burley told the Scottish Sun: "Craig has to get playing regularly for Sunderland - he has to get himself back in the team. It's like all the players, they need to be playing first-team football to play for Scotland."
The former Hearts keeper has only just regained full fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a chipped bone in his ankle.